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06.26.2012 , 08:37 PM | #142
87. In which we learn the price of disobedience

The end of one major conflict, but not the end of our original problem...

The Imps give conditional love
Handing pain or support from above.
Serve well and they’ll give
A superb way to live –
Or just death, or a variant thereof.

“I’m keeping my salary,” said Nalenne, “But understand that the only reason I’m staying Wrath at all is that you guys just demonstrated you’re nowhere near capable of bringing up an even vaguely qualified replacement.” Nalenne made a face at the holo. “Also Quinn likes the work.”

“Quinn is a remarkable creature,” said Servant One. “The offer remains open, captain, if you think your droid is up to it. But I suspect your chance has passed.”

“What is he talking about?” asked Nalenne.

“An exchange,” quavered Servant Two. “The captain obeys our command. The Hand restores his body to him. A new Wrath rises.”

“All within the Emperor’s power,” said Servant One. “Or it would have been if you hadn’t done the exact opposite of what we wanted, you stupid weasel.”

“Quinn. They offered you a body?”

“Yes,” he said, staring fixedly at the base of the holo.

Nalenne blinked. “Now I’m going to cry again. Why didn’t you say anything?”

“It wasn’t relevant, my lord. They asked me to betray you. I declined. The cost was my concern, not yours.”

“I…I really want to argue more, except that you still have the option to change your mind so I think I’m just going to agree with your decision for now.”

“It’s appreciated, my lord.”

“I don’t suppose you guys could re-embody him anyway? You know, as a favor for your extremely scary Wrath?”

“Not likely,” said Servant One. “We may need your services, Wrath, but don’t expect us to get friendly.”

“Good luck finding anybody half as dangerous as me for a replacement candidate.”

“Servant Nine would have prevailed. Only Quinn’s treachery saved you.”

“You say treachery, I say getting it right for once. You’ll understand if I’m not too broken up about his play.”

“The Wrath is crying a lot for somebody who isn’t broken up,” observed Servant Two.

“Not the point. I called to say I’m not dancing to your tune for a little while, okay? Call me when you find a fight worthy of me, but for now I’m taking a vacation.” A pause. “A paid vacation.”

“Damn,” said Servant One.

“Get gone.” She cut the holo.

And then she had to face Quinn. “I don’t…Malavai, I can’t even hug you.”

“It’s hardly necessary. You realize my motivations mostly have to do with my never, ever wanting to know how much worse things would get if I betrayed you again.”

“You could have been rid of me, and back in business. A real job. Respectable superiors. Snazzy up-to-date uniforms, probably with some shiny new decorations.”

Quinn’s brow creased. She suspected he hadn’t thought of that. But the expression passed. “You have a habit of imagining choices where there are none, my lord. My loyalty is to you. It could be no other way.”

“Even with the uniforms?”

“Even with the uniforms.”

“Yeah. Thanks. I, um, I think I’m going to keep crying for a while. Sorry about that.”

He gave her the ‘you’re being unreasonable again’ look. “I was trying to help.”

“It’s a thing, okay? I’ll be fine. Malavai, I’m – I’m great.” She covered her face with her hands and bolted.

Quinn stared after her, perplexed. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “I think.”
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---(Ceterum autem censeo, Malavai esse delendam.)--- DELETA MALAVAI EST